Christopher Watts
Christopher Watts

Christopher Watts
Osceola, MO

Lucas Oil Speedway Spotlight: Rookie Watts races No. 98 USRA B-Mod in tribute to fallen cousin


Lucas Oil Speedway

Lucas Oil Speedway Spotlight: Rookie Watts races No. 98 USRA B-Mod in tribute to fallen cousin

WHEATLAND, MO. (July 7, 2022) - Christopher Gavin Watts sold some of his favorite items, including jet skis and a RZR side-by-side, to pull together enough money to buy his first race car. His plan was to go racing in the USRA B-Mod division with his cousin, James Gates.

That dream never had the chance to happen. Gates was killed last December in an automobile accident in Hickory County, shaking not only the family but the tight-knit Ozarks-area dirt-track racing community.

After Watts decided to race on in 2022, he decided to pay tribute to his cousin at the same time. Watts is driving Gates' car, keeping the same door panels with the orange-on-black No. 98.

The idea came about while chatting with veteran racer and Lucas Oil Speedway flagman Mike Striegel, a racing mentor to both cousins.

“We were gonna put a new body on the car," Watts said. "Striegel was like, ‘What do you say we keep her close to the same this year?’ We kind of just went with the flow and are doing a memorial car for him this year. His wife thought it was a good idea and everything just kind of fell into place.

"It's been a cool little deal and keeping everybody involved in the deal he started."

Despite missing one racing program to attend a wedding, Watts sits 13th in the Lucas Oil Speedway Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mod points, just 33 out of the top 10. The B-Mods will be the featured division at Saturday night's Veterans and Military Appreciation Night Presented by KOZL.

Watts said he feels good about his rookie season and is quick to thank several people who have helped him, including Striegel along with his Dad and Grandfather.

Watts has qualified to two B-Mod A Features in seven Lucas Oil Speedway programs, with finishes near the back of the pack. But he said last time out for the Thursday Night Thunder program was one of his best despite missing the A Feature lineup by one transfer position from the B-Main.

"We didn’t make it to the show, but the car handled really good," Watts said. "We had one other time the car was excellent, when we went to I-35 in Winston and missed the show by one spot there, like we did last weekend.

“This whole experience has been awesome. I’ve wanted to do it forever and with the circumstances that happened, getting to do it in my cousin’s car is pretty cool."

Watts, who is from Osceola, said he and Gates, from Wheatland, grew up around racing as their dads both raced on the dirt. The cousins were one year apart in age.

"He got into it before I did and got him a car - this car I’m racing now was his first car, also," Watts said.

Since he began racing this season, Watts said many other family members and even some of Gates' friends and even Late Model racer Joe Walkenhorst have offered to help.

"A lot of people are supporting it and it’s just been a cool thing," he said.

Driving in the ultra-competitive USRA B-Mod division, where four speedway regulars (Kris Jackson, JC Morton, Andy Bryant and Ryan Gillmore) have claimed past USRA National Championships, has been an education. Watts said he learns by keeping his eyes and ears open to advice.

"It’s very tough and we have learned a lot just by watching some of the veteran drivers," Watts said. "They race clean. Nobody races you too dirty. But man, if you want to run up front, you better know what you’re doing.

"When we started this year, I missed one race to go to a wedding and we dropped from 10th to now ranked 13th. That’s not too bad for a first year, jumping straight into the B-Mod class. A lot of the B-Mod drivers aren’t scared to help. Jackson, he’s one you can learn from just watching him race."

Team sponsors include Motley Dozing and Construction, 5W Customs, Rains Seed Service, C&R Lawn Care and Tree Service and Outlaw Race Bodies.

Watts said he would like to finish top 10 in points or even claim a top-10 feature finish before the season concludes. He wants to do it for himself and to honor his cousin.

"I’m starting with my goals pretty small, but I didn’t think this year would go as good as it has so far," Watts said. "We’re gonna keep on trying to make our way faster.”

Drag boats and dirt-track doubleheader: It's a big doubleheader racing weekend of racing at Lucas Oil Speedway with the Kentucky Drag Boat Association firing up the KDBA Summer Thunder on Lake Lucas during the daytime, Saturday and Sunday. Round one of qualifying is tentatively set to begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday.

Spectators can make it a full day of racing action by sticking around for Saturday night's action on the dirt track. The Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series resumes as KOZL Presents Veterans and Military Appreciation Night, with all veterans or military personnel admitted free with ID. Any spectator purchasing a drag boat ticket, or a two-day drag boat pass, also will gain free admittance to the dirt-track program.

The KDBA Summer Thunder on Lake Lucas will have a $38,200 purse and recorded for later airing on MAVTV Motorsports. Competing divisions will be Top Alcohol Hydro, Pro Outlaw, Top Alcohol Flat, Pro Mod, Quick Eliminator, Pro Eliminator, Pro Comp Flat, Top Eliminator, Modified Eliminator, Stock Eliminator and Personal Watercraft.

On the dirt, the Ozark Golf Cars USRA B-Mods will be the evening's featured class running for a special 25-Lap, $750 to win Main Event. Hot laps are set for 6:30 p.m. with racing at 7:05.

Kids' Pit Tour: Prior to the dirt-track racing program, flagman Mike Striegel will lead his weekly Kids' Pit Tour on a large golf cart for youngsters ages 5-12. The kids can sign up at the Frogs Jr Fan Club on the south end of the Midway prior to 5 p.m. for a chance to go on the pit tour.

Saturday KDBA Summer Thunder on Lake Lucas schedule
7 a.m. - Registration opens
8 a.m. - Spectator gates open
9 a.m. - Round 1 qualifying sportsman session
10:30 a.m. - Round 1 qualifying pro session
12:30 p.m. - Round 2 qualifying sportsman session
2 p.m. - Round 2 qualifying pro session

Saturday Big Adventure RV Weekly Racing Series schedule
4 p.m. - Gates open
6:30 p.m. - Hot laps
7:05 p.m. - Racing begins

Sunday KDBA Summer Thunder on Lake Lucas schedule
8 a.m. - Gates open
9 a.m. - Racing begins

Saturday Drag Boat admission:
Adults GA/Pit Pass Combo (16 and up) - $30
Seniors (62 and up)/Military GA/Pit Pass Combo (62 and up) - $27
Youth GA/Pit Pass Combo (age 6 to 15) - $10
Kids GA/Pit Pass Combo (age 5 and under) - FREE
Family Pass GA/Pit Pass Combo $70 Includes Admission for 2 Adults and Up to 3 Kids Ages - (6-15)
Adult 2-Day GA/Pit Pass Combo - $55
Seniors (62 and up)/Military 2-Day GA/Pit Pass Combo - $49
Youth Ages (6-15) 2-Day GA/Pit Pass Combo - $20
(All tickets include access to the Drag Boat pit area)
(All Saturday and 2-Day tickets include entry to the Dirt Track Event on Saturday night)

Sunday Drag Boat Admission
Adults GA/Pit Pass Combo (16 and up) - $25
Seniors (62 and up)/Military GA/Pit Pass Combo (62 and up) - $22
Youth GA/Pit Pass Combo (age 6 to 15) - $10
Kids GA/Pit Pass Combo (age 5 and under) - FREE
Family Pass GA/Pit Pass Combo - $60 i(ncludes admission for 2 adults and up to 3 kids ages 6-15)
(All tickets include access to the Drag Boat pit area)

Dirt track admission:
Advance Discount Tickets online only (16 and up) $12
Adults (16 and up) $15
Seniors (62 and up)/Military $12
Youth (6-15) $5
Kids (5 and under) FREE
Family Pass $35 (Click Here for more information)
Pit Pass $30
(Grandstand admission FREE with Saturday drag boat ticket or 2-day drag boat pass)

To purchase tickets for any event on Lucas Oil Speedway's schedule, or to inquire about camping information, contact Admissions Director Nichole McMillan at (417) 295-6043 or via email at

Danny Lorton
Lucas Oil Speedway General Manager
Office: (417) 282-5984
Complete Lucas Oil Speedway event information, archived race recaps, previews and driver features, along with ticket information and schedules can be found by visiting

Lucas Oil Speedway is located at Highways 83 and 54 in Wheatland, Missouri. A campground with shower and bathroom facilities is also available. With its entrance located just outside the pit gate this sprawling scenic camping facility will continue to enhance the racing experience at the Diamond of Dirt Tracks.

Click for more information and detailed directions to the speedway or call the Track Hotline at (417) 282-5984. The Lucas Oil Speedway EZ Texting number is (417) 804-4141.

In addition, fans can get social with Lucas Oil Speedway by following @LucasSpeedway on Twitter, clicking "Like" at and on

About Lucas Oil Speedway
Lucas Oil Speedway is considered by fans, drivers and industry insiders to be one of the top five racing facilities in the nation. Located in Wheatland, Missouri, approximately an hour from Springfield, Missouri, and just an hour and a half from the Kansas City metro area, the "Diamond of Dirt Tracks" lives up to its title.

Twenty-One VIP Luxury Suites, HD Jumbo-Tron Screen, Stadium Style Musco Sports Lighting, a Bose Sound System, Go-Kart Slick Track, The Diamond Bar, Track Treasures Gift Shop, the best track food in the country and paved pits are a few of the spectacular amenities setting the Diamond of Dirt apart. This year marks the 12th season for the Liquid Quarter Mile Drag Racing Lake, "Lake Lucas." New for 2017 was all-purpose built Off Road facility featuring a host of regional events.

Lucas Oil Speedway's dirt oval track plays host to some of the largest and most-popular events in the Midwest with national and regional touring series appearing frequently including: The Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, POWRi Midget National Series, Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League, United States Modified Touring Series, ASCS Sprint Cars and the Lucas Oil MLRA.

In addition to the special events, the Lucas Oil Speedway Weekly Racing Series features the Late Models, USRA Modifieds, USRA Stock Cars and USRA B-Mods.

2022 Official Lucas Oil Speedway Marketing Partners

Arizona Sport Shirts
"The Official Merchandise Provider" of Lucas Oil Speedway

Bill Roberts Chevrolet-Buick
"The Official Truck" of Lucas Oil Speedway

Dixie Chopper
"The Official Mowers of Lucas Oil Speedway"

General Tire
"The Official Tire" of Lucas Oil Speedway

Lucas Oil Products
"The Official Oil" of Lucas Oil Speedway

"The Official Television Network" of Lucas Oil Speedway

Optima Batteries
"The Official Battery" of Lucas Oil Speedway

Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr. Pepper
"The Official Soft Drink" of Lucas Oil Speedway
"The Official Classifieds" of Lucas Oil Speedway

Rugged Radios
"The Official 2-Way Communications Provider" of Lucas Oil Speedway

Sunoco Race Fuels
"The Official Fuel" of Lucas Oil Speedway

Super Clean
"The Official Sponsor" of Lucas Oil Speedway

2022 Lucas Oil Speedway Supporters Include:
AM Pyrotechnics, Arizona Sport Shirts, Ash Grove Aggregates, Berry Tractor and Equipment Co., Big Adventure RV, Bill Roberts Chevrolet-Buick, Bolivar Auto Sales & Detailing, Bolivar Farmers Exchange-MFA, Boone's BBQ Barn, Boubin Tire/American Racer, Branstetter & Lightfoot LLC, Bridal Cave, BWI Sanitation, Camden on the Lake Resort, Candlelight Creations-Dick's Wild Root Horseradish, Casey's, Cedar Creek Beef Jerky, Citizens Memorial Healthcare, City Magnet, Clearlight Inn, Comfort Inn-Bolivar,, Dixie Chopper, eBay Motors, Eibach Springs, Evans Pipe & Steel Co., Farmers Insurance Agent Kristy Reynolds, Fast Shafts by Axle Exchange, Foley Equipment-Cat Rental Store, Frog Signs, Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare, Hermitage Lumber, HICKAMO Country Store, Highway 54 RV Park, Hobbytime Motorsports, Hoosier Race Tires, Impact Signs Awnings Wraps, In the Garden of Eden, Kettle Treats, Keyser Manufacturing, Kluhsman Racing Components, Kona Ice, Lucas Cattle Company, Margaritaville Lake Resort, Midwest Sheet Metal, Miller Welding, Missouri Department of Tourism, Missouri Division of Tourism, MyRacePass, Nutrien Ag Solutions, OakStar Bank, O'Bannon Bank, O'Reilly Auto Parts, Ozark Golf Cars, Ozarks Coca-Cola/Dr. Pepper, Ozarks Community Health Center, PEM, Pitts Homes, Pitts Realty, Pitts Cattle, ProThings Apparel, RACEceiver,,,, Rains Ice Company, Real Racing Wheels, Rod End Supply, Ron Jenkins Accounting & Tax Service, Rugged Radios, Ryan E. Murphy Law Firm LLC, SBU Athletics, Safety Kleen, Scott Furniture, Simpson Racing Products, Southwest Electric Cooperative, Stillwater Resort, Sunoco Race Fuels, Sunflower Resort, TA/PETRO, US Army Corps of Engineers-Pomme de Terre, Vietti Marketing Group, Wheatland Motel, White's Marine Center, Wild Animal Safari, Woods Supermarkets, Wrisco Industries.

Article Credit: By Lyndal Scranton, Lucas Oil Speedway

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